Friday, January 27, 2012

NTIA Enhances National Broadband Map for Mobile Devices

Enhanced Broadband Map
Article by Andrew Burger

Accessible via mobile devices, the National Broadband Map (NBM) has been enhanced to make it easier for users to search for broadband availability, summarize and rank data and view a map of community anchor institutions, the NTIA/FCC announced on the NBM website Friday.

Updated every six months, the NBM is part of the NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative. The nationwide broadband information resource was created by the FCC and NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) in collaboration with state and local public and private sector partners to “encourage economic growth by facilitating the integration of broadband and information technology into state and local economies.”

Optimized for search and presentation on mobile browsers and touch-screen and smartphone screens, users can now search for local broadband data with their smartphones’ GPS capabilities. Results are presented in a new format designed to enhance ease of use and comprehension.

The first map to be deployed for NBM’s mobile service is the Community Anchor Institutions’ map. Users tap “Search” to enter an address. A map of the 25 closest broadband service providers is presented. A zoom capability enables you to zero in on a requested location, with each point providing information about the facility and any known broadband service details.

Making use of the “touch-optimized” jQuery Mobile framework, the NTIA and FCC are also making it easier for independent third-party mobile app developers to develop mobile apps based on the NBM.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Verizon posts strong FiOS TV results in Q4

Verizon posts strong FiOS TV results in Q4

Verizon Communications expanded its FiOS TV base by 194,000 net new customers in the fourth quarter, a gain of 12,000 more than the 182,000 reported a year earlier and sizable pickup from the third quarter, which attracted 131,000 net new customers. Verizon added 201,000 FiOS broadband customers to bring its total to 4.8 million. On the wireless side, Verizon sold 4.2 million iPhones and added 1.5 million subscribers on a 13% increase in revenue and slightly lower churn. Overall, Verizon's revenue increased 7.7% as a one-time pension charge affected its bottom.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spotlight on Idaho's Broadband, Wireless and Connectivity to Rural Areas!

Idaho recently got a lot of attention after the New York Times published an article about how it has the slowest broadband speeds in the country. I am sympathetic to the frustration of people who live in places where they do not have access to better broadband and are stuck with slow, overpriced satellite or overpriced, unreliable DSL service. I am also sympathetic to the gentleman from Potlatch highlighted in the article who said that his Internet service was taken out by bears that were rubbing against the towers up in the mountains! If it is dependent on towers, he is most likely using fixed wireless from a WISP. In fact, most places in Northern Idaho can ONLY get broadband from a WISP! Here is a map that is part of a WISPA project that highlights the census blocks in Idaho that can only get broadband from fixed terrestrial wireless providers:

51,646 households in Idaho can only get access from a WISP, that is 9.19% of the total households in the state.

This total area is 16,888 square miles and represents 20.41% of the total land area of the state.

Idaho has 6.79 households per square mile in the entire state, but only 3.06 households per square mile in the areas served by WISPs.

This data highlights the advantages of WISPs, and the massive failures of our current telecom policy and USF mechanism.

WISPs are able to survive and deliver broadband even in places that have very low population density. All of those purple sections in the map above would have NO broadband if not for WISPs. Which points out a massive failure of our current telecom policy and USF system. According to the USAC High Cost Disbursement Data Tool, Eligible Telecommunications Carriers in Idaho received $51,785,484 in subsidies. The Potlatch Telephone company that serves the Potlatch area received $208,053 in USF subsidies last year, equivalent to $21.92/month for each resident of Potlatch. Apparently, nearly $52 million dollars is not enough for the phone companies of Idaho to upgrade their infrastructure to deliver better broadband. Yet another example of why this system is doomed to waste money.

Compare this to a WISP that serves the area – First Step Internet – that offers a choice of broadband speeds starting at $35/month for 800k/128k and up to 4mb/1mb for $80/month. First Step has been in the ISP business since 1994 and is one of the few surviving independent ISPs that have been able to thrive and prosper in the wake of anti-competitive efforts from the telcos and rampant and unnecessary subsidization of obsolete infrastructure through USF.

Finally, I’d like to highlight another WISP success story in Idaho that I touched on earlier this month. Microserv Technologies, another Idaho WISP, recently passed the 10,000 subscriber mark. That growth has taken place organically, with no government subsidies, by providing a high level of service to their customers and urban quality broadband speeds at affordable prices.

The answer for Idaho is pretty clear: pull the plug on unnecessary subsidies and foster the development of WISP operators by clearing up more spectrum for independent fixed wireless broadband operators.

Article Link


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Top Ten Communications, Tech, and Media Industry Trends For 2012

2012 Trends in Fiber
Article Link by Arvind Arora

Carriers will be putting a huge emphasis on fiber-based services to deal with mobile networks that are being pushed to their limits, according to M/C Partners, which has released its annual list of the top 10 communications, technology and media industry trends to watch in 2012.

A dramatic increase in cloud services and video consumption are creating serious challenges for carriers, who will be scrambling to address the issue. Many will use fiber to upgrade cell tower backhaul networks to raise network capacity, according to the private equity firm’s list.

M/C Partners compiled the list as part of its ongoing research to understand industry trends and identify investment opportunities in the communications, media, and information technology sectors.

According to M/C Partners, the leading trend in the new year will be carriers’ use of fiber to upgrade cell tower backhaul networks to gigabit connections, a staggering increase from the 1-2 megabits carriers provisioned to cell towers only a few years ago.

“As mobile users expect their phones to operate more like PCs and increase their consumption of social and traditional media, mobile networks are being pushed to their absolute limits,” said James Wade, Managing General Partner, M/C Partners.

“Adoption of cloud services and mobile consumption of video are only in their early stages, but growing very quickly. Networks are struggling to handle it right now. What will happen when demand grows ten-fold, as it likely will? Ubiquitous fiber will be the solution.”

Trends on the M/C Partners’ list include:

1. Fiber to the tower will become the number one priority for network operators struggling to deal with mobile users’ insatiable thirst for broadband.

2. Enterprise adoption of cloud-based services will drive demand for network-based managed services that will provide critical monitoring and management of application and service performance across LANs, MANs, WANs and the public Internet.

3. New technological innovations on the handset and in the network will improve important services like caching, compression and signaling to enhance mobile user experience, battery life and network access.

4. Consumerization of the enterprise will expand as end users move from simply driving iPhone and iPad adoption in the enterprise to pushing IT departments to provide more user-friendly and consumer-style applications for information sharing and management.

5. Micro-transaction business models will expand from social games into MMOGs, console games and other areas such as video, social networks and communications services providing consumer-directed price discrimination across a range of services.

6. HTML 5’s simplification of mobile application development will improve app economics, competition and usage by providing a seamless cross-platform experience and backward compatibility to the PC environment without sacrificing performance.

7. Consumers will realize the value of managed technology services from OEMs, broadband service providers and independent tech support companies to maximize the utility of their networked devices, as the need for better performance and up-time becomes increasingly valuable to consumers.

8. The content rental model will push beyond music and video into print publications with tablets providing an improved consumption medium that content owners will seek to fill with magazines and books.

9. Marketing options for small local businesses will expand beyond daily deals into more powerful tools that provide better yield management and integration with traditional local media and direct marketing for improved customer acquisition and lifetime value of customers.

10. Cable operators will answer over-the-top threats with apps and more subscription package variety to gain the upper hand in alternative video viewing options for consumers while still preserving the critical distribution and billing relationship.

M/C Partners is a private equity firm focused exclusively on the communications, media, and information technology sectors. The firm has invested over $1.5 billion into nearly 100 companies in those sectors. Companies M/C has backed include Cavalier Telephone, Corelink, Fusepoint, GTS Central Europe, ICG Communications, Legendary Pictures, Lightower, MetroPCS, NuVox, Open Mobile, Public Mobile, Seven Networks and Zayo Group.

Southeast Venture Conference, February 29 – March 1, 2012 at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, VA – Where Smart Money Meets Smart People.